- Making a great dinner party: A great group of friends. I cannot ever conceive of sharing something so personal as cooking for strangers.
- Setting the mood: For the table setting let the characteristic of your guest’s personalities guide you. Since all the guests for this party were from all points around the globe I thought the hand embroidered batik table-cloth my boyfriends’ [aka - sous chef] sister gave me, and the new purple china from my family provided the perfect mix of elegance and richness.
- Finding inspiration: It’s an organic process for me. I find one recipe and build up from there; same process I use when putting together an outfit.
- Cooking for carnivores: I try to have items that have some earthiness to them, like the lentils and cabbage.
- Advice for success: Be done cooking by the time the guests arrive. When you know you are done cooking you can relax and be ready to enjoy your friend’s company.
Our friends W&W cooked us up a wonderful warming and very fulfilling vegetarian dinner a few weeks back. Wendy [one part of the W&W] is a Vegetarian. I can’t imagine what it must be like as a Vegetarian going about planning a dinner party for a group of carnivores. I know when we have Vegetarians come to our house it creates quiet the flurry of activity making sure there is a tasty substitute for our vegetable friendly friends. Typically when I think of a vegetarian dining experience I always think I am going to leave wanting to get a burger, or something else to eat, never completely satisfied with just vegetables & legumes. Not the case with this duo, the menu was creatively packed with interesting textures and flavors, sending us home rolling down the street. The evening began when W&W greeted us with some cocktails and nibbles before we moved into the dining room for dinner.
All the dishes we consumed this night were loving made from scratch [with the exception of the cupcakes we brought along]. We started with a cocktail made from a delicious cherry liquor that W&W carreied back from a pretty hillside Greek-slave town on the Turkish coast called Sirince. This was accompanied with some cheese straws that packed a little kick from some cayenne [click here for the recipe], and candied spiced pecans [soy sauce, brown sugar, cinnamon, cumin, cayenne and fresh thyme].
Then it was onto the main event for the night and we settled into the cosy dinning room to feast. We started with the most delicious soup, it was so good I wanted to bathe in it, a Soup D’herbes Potageres or Pot Herb Soup [sounds better in French]. Essentially it is a potato based soup that is swimming in fresh herbs – delicate, creamy and this beautiful green color [click here for the recipe]. The crusty warm french bread had a delicious sundried-tomato compound butter [similar recipe click here] to accompany it. The main dish was a heaping helping of Red Cabbage Gratin with a crust made from parmesan, walnuts and bread crumbs [click here for the recipe] served alongside French puy lentils with aged balsamic vinegar and dijon mustard [click here for a similar recipe]. A short break some more wine and then we got stuck into the dessert a wonderful Italian blueberry coconut tart.
I asked Wendy for her tricks and advice for throwing a successful dinner party, here are her responses:
Thanks W&W we look forward to getting our next invite for dinner.